With the season of Ramadan upon us, the years and years old fascination for how people starve themselves for the better part of a day (for an entire month!) is bound to resurface. And if you ask your Muslim friends about it, they’ll tell you that it’s not that hard and it’s actually good for your health!
While we don’t know about the first part (it definitely sounds really hard), we are 100% sure of the second half of the above sentence. Intermittent fasting, indeed, has some brilliant benefits in store for your health (1).
Here are 10 incredible benefits of fasting that will make you want to periodically starve yourself (in a healthy way, of course!):
1. It Aids Weight Loss
Intermittent fasting, which is ditching foods for a few hours regularly, can help you lose weight. Studies have shown that periodic fasting helps your body burn fat cells quicker as compared to plain dieting. Such kind of fasting forces your body to use the stored fat and convert it into energy instead of relying on sugar. In fact, several athletes use this method to lower the percentage of fat in their bodies (2)!
2. It Enhances Insulin Sensitivity
A recent study has proven that fasting from time to time can be beneficial for your body’s insulin sensitivity (3). The study states that if you fast intermittently, your insulin’s efficiency in telling your cells to absorb glucose will improve post-fasting (4). This means that your body will be better equipped to process carbohydrates than it normally does without fasting.
3. It Can Help You Live A Long Life
Might sound counterproductive, but eating less can actually set you on the road to a long and healthy life! A study conducted by the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health has revealed that intermittent fasting can slow down the aging process by improving cell function and thus, serving as the secret to a long and healthy life (5). So, if you want to live long, this is the way to do it!
4. It Boosts Your Metabolism
The best way to give your tummy some rest is to skip the meals and fast! Fasting gives your metabolism a healthy boost, which helps you in burning more calories (6). In fact, if you suffer from poor digestive system health, your metabolism and calorie-burning can be affected by fasting. This, in turn, can improve your digestion, your bowel function, and your metabolism.
5. It Exposes You To Real Hunger
As weird as it sounds, hear us out. When you have 3 square meals plus snacks every day, you really don’t give your body the chance to know what real hunger is like. So, if you want to know what it’s like to be really hungry, starving for 12 to 24 hours can help you with that! At least that’s what studies say. When you fast, your body releases the hormones leptin and ghrelin, which are the hunger hormones (7), (8). When functioning properly, these hormones can also help you feel fuller faster.
6. It Helps You Rectify Your Eating Habits
If you suffer from eating disorders, particularly those which cause you to binge eat, you can cure them with the help of fasting. This also works for people who don’t have a regular eating timetable due to reasons such as work. Intermittent fasting enables you to recognize when your body is hungry and set a routine accordingly so you don’t feel the urge to eat otherwise.
7. It Makes You Smarter
Another study shows that intermittent fasting is actually good for your brain (9). This study states that when you fast, your memory performance improves, it becomes easier for you to recover from an injury to the brain, and even reduces your chances of getting diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s!
8. It Strengthens Your Immune System
Adding to the list of benefits of intermittent fasting, another bonus is an improvement in your immune function. Researchers explain that when you don’t eat for a period of 12 hours to a day, your body gets the chance to shift its focus from your digestive system to the regeneration process of its various organs such as the kidneys and liver (10). Plus, it also improves your white blood cell production, leading to a strengthened immunity.
9. It Helps In Self-Enlightenment
Fasting is almost unanimously encouraged by every religion of the world, and there’s a reason for that! When you fast, your body feels lighter and your mind clearer, which improves how you feel physically and consciously. Fasting also makes you more grateful!
10. It Gives You A Clear Complexion
As mentioned before, since your body stops focusing on digestion when you fast, it redirects its focus to its regenerating abilities. This helps detoxify your system, giving way to a glowing complexion!
Intermittent fasting might have many benefits, but it’s still best to consult with your doctor before trying it out. After all, you don’t want to end up with side effects when you’re looking for benefits!
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